It’s a word in common language, used everyday. By all of us. By me. But I’d never really had a proper panic attack before last week. Now I know the meaning.
I was having a shower, odd place for a panic attack I know but stick with me here. I tilted my head a bit too far back, and took on a bit too much water in my nose and eyes.
This is when the panic set in. Hyperventilation. Sweating (I didn’t know I could sweat in the shower). All in a matter of seconds. My fragile mind transported back twenty odd years to when I nearly drowned. I say drowned. Someone tried to drown me. A swimming instructor.
So I never learnt to swim properly until I was 21, taught after I finished my degree on my post-university holiday. All because of fear. Anxiety. Panic. I’m still not a strong swimmer because this latent fear sits in the back of my mind. So please don’t expect me to jump in to save you if you’re struggling. I’ll try but I can’t promise anything.
So here I was. In the shower. Trying to catch my breath. Water still gushing out. Trying to get a sense of my surroundings again so I can calm myself down. Easier said than done.
Where am I? I can’t breath. I’m definitely going to die. God it’s wet. It’s hot. I’m hot. Oh my god. I’m going to pass out. In my shower. Alone. And it’ll use up all the hot water. Then I’ll be in trouble.
So I sat down. Don’t ask me why. I just did. I was closer to the taps. I could survive. I will survive. The waters stopped. Why am I still breathing like I’ve just sprinted an uphill marathon?
Then slooooooowly. A old lesson came back to me. I briefly revisited a meditation exercise I learnt from the big breakfast in the 90s. Closed my eyes. Breathe in through the nose. Out through the mouth. Within what felt like an hour but was probably a minute I was back to myself.
Back to normal. Well as normal as I can be.
So I have reflected on this experience in the last week. It has taught me that I can overcome fears, be that fear of open water by using the help of friends or overcoming a small panic by utilising old skills.
I can do this. You can do this. We all carry round baggage. Fears. Beliefs. Disbeliefs. Thoughts. Keep on top of them. Let them out from time to time. Talk to each other. Start a conversation. Embrace each other and respect our differences.
Be beautiful to one another